2013: What is the Hope?

The year 2013 has been portrayed differently by different people. For some, 2013 is a year of doom. For others, it is a year of hope.

I believe 2013 is a year of both “challenge” and “hope.” In fact, the twins “challenge/hope” always come together. If one appears, you know the other one is close behind.

Challenges for 2013

If the human being consists of three major area–namely, stomach, brain, and heart–then the challenges that humans will face in 2013 have to do with these three major areas: a challenge for the stomach; a challenge for the brain; and a challenge for the heart.

Challenge 1: Obesity – A Challenge for the Stomach


What scientists call

The challenge for the stomach in 2013 is obesity. Beset with a computer-oriented, sedentary life style that encourages inactivity and brain work rather than an active life style, a considerable percentage of people find themselves challenged by increasing obesity.

According to data published by the Centers for Disease Control, “More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese.”

Chicken Broccoli Stir FryThe factors that contribute to obesity can be summarized in three categories: (1) quality of food; (2) lack of physical activity; and (3) the computer/Internet revolution.

  1. Quality of Food: People are eating more sugar, a larger amount of calories, and higher fat content. In some cases, people do not have easy access to healthy and affordable types of food.

    • Cook at home;
    • Choose restaurants with better choices;
    • Avoid processed foods.
  2. Lack of Physical Activity: Modern living encourages a sedentary life style. We drive everywhere. Parks and recreation centers are not always easily accessible.

    • Make physical activity a part of your schedule;
    • Follow guidelines for activity levels–from 150 to 200 minutes a week; see the CDC Guide for more information.
    • Make physical activity fun rather than a drudgery.
  3. The Hardware/Software Revolution: For many of us, working means sitting in front of a screen. Entertainment likewise. The explosive and pervasive presence of digital media has brought incredible benefits to humankind in terms of communication, education, and social interaction–but at the same time, it has transformed the way we make money, conduct business, learn, and create goods and services. As a side effect to this glorious revolution, the time we tend to spend sitting down as opposed to moving around has increased.Parents, educators, and professionals need to develop a conscious strategy to counteract the undesirable side effects of the software/hardware revolution. Here’s what we can do:

    • Computers are not the enemy. We just have to adjust the way we deal with computers.
    • Use your virtual network to get together with friends in the real world and engage in various activities.
    • Consciously plan activities for the stomach and the heart to counteract the brain-centered work with computers.

Challenge : Religionism – A Challenge for the Brain

The term “religionism” is used here for a particular purpose, namely, to identify and separate two aspects in Religion: (1) a wonderful, beneficial aspect, which is the spirituality of that religion; and (2) a harmful aspect, which is the tendency toward extremism and violence in a particular religion.

It is easy to praise religion for its spirituality, its wonderful people, its history of charitableness and philanthropy. But it is likewise easy to abhor and loathe the evil aspects of religion, which lead people to commit unspeakable crimes in the form of wars, terrorism, and persecution.

By distinguishing between the two aspects of spirituality and religionism, it is possible to analyze the evil aspects of religious extremism without including the excellent aspects of spirituality.

In extreme situations–such as the times in which we live today, with wars, rumors of wars, doomsday scenarios, and fear of economic collapse–it is a short path to the acceptance of salvation through religionism.

Religionism as salvation, though, works very much like a harmful drug: it may provide an immediate effect–like an injection of hope, faith, and enthusiastic activism–but the effects will be horrible and destructive.

I believe the year 2013 will present lots of opportunities for people to embrace religionism. And since religionism is basically an ideology that has a tendency to brainwash people into thinking in terms of extremism, violence, and terrorism, it is, therefore, a problem of the brain. We need, therefore, to counteract the tendency toward religionism.


  • Guard your heart against hatred;
  • Seek social change through peaceful means rather than violence;
  • Resist easy promises of great reward in the afterlife, while living terrible lives in this world.
  • Discover new reasons to be hopeful and optimistic.

Challenge 3: Depression — A Challenge for the Heart

The National Institute of Mental Health characterizes depression as feeling “blue” or “sad” in a way that “interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you.” Thankfully, those who are afflicted by depression as a medical condition can receive effective treatment and lead happy, productive lives.

Scientists are working hard to discover what causes depression, According to the National Institute of Mental Health, much has been discovered about the effects of depression, but it is still not clear to them what causes depression:

“Brain-imaging technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), have shown that the brains of people who have depression look different than those of people without depression. The parts of the brain involved in mood, thinking, sleep, appetite, and behavior appear different. But these images do not reveal why the depression has occurred. They also cannot be used to diagnose depression.”

My purpose in this article is to raise awareness of depression as a challenge for 2013 and to point out things that parents, grandparents, and people in general can do to create for themselves, their children, and grandchildren an environment that is hopeful, upbeat, and depression-free.

COUNTERACTION to Depression:

  • Develop gentle rituals of the heart;
  • Learn the “ways of the heart,” which often refuses to be controlled. Like water, which seeks the lowest position, heart seeks expression. Water will always find the lowest position; heart will always find expression.
  • Trust the fundamental goodness of the heart.

I have attempted to show in this article that the year 2013 can be a year of challenges–but, as Einstein has pointed out–every challenge hides an opportunity. Thus, the year 2013 can also be a year of great opportunities. Herein lies the hope of 2013!

Paulo-Juarez PereirA
December 31, 2012
Ypsilanti MI, USA

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